The People Part of the P-Card Training Equation

When revising your P-Card training and considering the needs of trainees, look further than just their job titles. Drill down to some specific characteristics that can impact which training approaches you decide to implement. The other “people part” of the equation is the trainer. Assigning this role to the P-Card program manager or administrator is not the only option. At the 22nd National Cards and Payments on Campus Conference earlier this year, breakout session speaker Helen Kubiak, CPCP, from Lone Star College addressed a wide range of P-Card training aspects. Below, I am sharing her tips related to both trainees and trainers, including what to prepare for that you might not expect. Giving more thought to the “who” portion of a training plan improves the chances of everyone having a positive experience.

Who Will Be Trained?

We know that mandating training for cardholders and managers is a best practice, but, as Helen stressed during her conference session, one size does not fit all. I completely agree. Beyond job titles, cardholders and managers alike will possess different attitudes, computer skills, training preferences, etc. Helen recommends asking trainees what they need and then responding accordingly. For example, senior-level cardholders may want one-on-one training in the privacy of their office. Others might feel most comfortable with online, on-demand training.

When it comes to classroom training on the technology they will use, avoid mixing computer novices with those who are computer fluent. If they are together, the pace will either be too fast or too slow, and a portion of the audience will be frustrated. After the initial training, Helen endorses regularly offering open computer lab times with trainers on hand to help cardholders reconcile their transactions.

Finally, prepare for pushback. Helen described how a trainee once surprised her by asking, “I was hired to do X, so why do I have to do these administrative tasks?” In my career, I encountered pushback from a manager who thought P-Cards added work to his department. When I described the purchase-to-pay process with and without cards, he was able to see that P-Cards provided more benefits overall. In addition, I reiterated how the P-Card program was supported by senior management.

Who Should Deliver the Training?

As the subject matter expert (SME), the P-Card program manager or administrator (PM/PA) is a natural choice. They know the frequently asked questions and common P-Card situations to cover during training. However, an SME is not always the best trainer. They might know their stuff, but fail to engage an audience and/or not be comfortable in the role.

Some organizations centralize their internal training needs by having a designated training department cover a variety of topics. Would it make sense to add P-Card training to their list? Helen acknowledges that it can be hard for the PM/PA to relinquish the trainer role, but it could be worth evaluating if your organization has the capability. I think that this arrangement would work best for a virtual, on-demand platform. The PM/PA could provide a script that the trainer uses to create a polished, finished product. In a classroom setting, an organization trainer might not be equipped to answer detailed P-Card questions from trainees.

No matter who delivers the training, ensure they have the right skills, which might mean they should attend a class geared toward trainers. Even good trainers are susceptible to what Helen identifies as losing energy over time. She shared, “Sometimes when you think you’re in a groove [as a trainer], you’re really in a rut.” This can happen when a trainer is so familiar with the material that he or she goes into auto-pilot mode. You have to seek ways to keep the energy level up and the content fresh. Helen even suggests incorporating some humor into in-person training sessions when appropriate.

Final Thoughts

Motivated trainers who are willing to mix things up and cater to the needs of trainees will see a payoff for their efforts. During her session, Helen nicely summed up P-Card training by expressing, “Empowered (trained) employees contribute to program growth.” Absolutely!

See more training-related content from Recharged Education, including four attributes of effective training.

Giving more thought to the “who” portion of your P-Card training plan improves the chances of everyone having a positive experience.

Giving more thought to the “who” portion of your P-Card training plan improves the chances of everyone having a positive experience.



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About the Author

Blog post author Lynn Larson, CPCP, is the founder of Recharged Education. With 20 years of Commercial Card experience, her mission is to make industry education readily accessible to all. Learn more

Is Your P-Card Training 5-Star Worthy?

Having good Commercial Card/P-Card policies and procedures is not enough for fraud prevention and detection or, for that matter, an efficient program. If the training component is poor, even good employees can fail at their roles and damage your card program in the process. Does your training yield the desired results, such as high cardholder compliance? Does it deserve a closer look? Following are four attributes of effective training (although there certainly are more than four) and related questions to help you assess where you can improve.

A Clear Purpose

Have you documented the goals and objectives—what participants should be able to do as a result? Unfortunately, this step often gets missed or the wording is too vague/not measurable. For example, for the training that occurs prior to card issuance, list specific outcomes, such as cardholders should be equipped to:

  • Articulate when to use a P-Card versus a different purchase-to-pay (P2P) process
  • Use the card appropriately for acceptable business purchases
  • Utilize approved suppliers
  • Take action to resolve issues that might occur, such as declined transactions
  • Effectively reconcile/review transactions
  • Compile the required supporting documentation

The purpose of the training should drive the content.

Appropriate Content and Length

  • Does the content align with the training goals and objectives?
  • Is the content tailored to the target audience? I recommend developing separate training for each unique group (e.g., manager-approvers) to make it more meaningful. 
  • Is the content concise? A long list of topics and/or too many details can overwhelm participants. Instead, ensure they know where to find more information within the policies and procedures manual.
  • Does the content reflect presentation design best practices? Recharged Education offers resources to help you create better presentations.
  • To further help bring the content to life, are there examples of common scenarios participants might face?
  • Does the training consume an hour or less? In today’s fast-paced environment, even an hour can feel long unless the training is highly interactive. It is typically better to break down the content into shorter modules.

Diverse Formats with Interactive Elements

Do you offer different options to address the diverse needs, preferences, and skill levels of your audience (cardholders, manager-approvers, others)? Take a blended approach that includes classroom training, virtual options, and self-paced electronic programs.

Is the training interactive? With all formats, engage the audience throughout the training. For example, ask them how they would respond to different scenarios. Polling or quiz questions also provide an indication of whether participants are learning.  

Opportunity for Feedback

Do you encourage participant feedback, allowing them to provide anonymously if desired? Offering an electronic survey with a combination of multiple-choice and open-ended questions can be valuable. Be sure to ask how the training could be improved. 

Do you make changes to the training when the feedback reflects a trend (versus reacting to every random comment)? Satisfied participants naturally contribute to card program success.

More Resources

Access the Training & Communications page for more resources, including tips related to manager training, quizzes, and annual refresher training. 



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About the Author

Blog post author Lynn Larson, CPCP, is the founder of Recharged Education. With 20 years of Commercial Card experience, her mission is to make industry education readily accessible to all. Learn more

The pursuit of interactive training.

In the last blog post, I addressed four principles of adult learning that we can put into practice, based on recommendations from Tanya Grosz, Ph.D.; Dean of Graduate, Online & Adult Learning for the University of Northwestern – St. Paul. Following is part two, continuing the discussion about our PowerPoint-centered business environment. I asked Tanya how to make learning more interactive and what she thinks about online platforms compared to in-person training. At least one of her answers surprised me... 

Interactive Learning

How can we improve our business training? Tanya previously acknowledged that PowerPoint is still the currency of the business world, but, as she explains, “You may present something (e.g., a few slides) then stop and ask a question. You may use clickers or an app on your phone that asks for anonymous participation so you understand where your audience is at. You may actually break into groups with a task assigned then come back together to share highlights.” 

One form of interactive training involves participants working together to solve problems or addressing situations they could encounter on the job.

One form of interactive training involves participants working together to solve problems or addressing situations they could encounter on the job.

Mary Schaeffer, nationally recognized accounts payable consultant and creator of the AP Now website, shared how an interactive approach recently worked for her. She delivered a virtual presentation consisting of 20 AP scenarios. Upon describing each, she would present different outcomes and attendees would vote on which one they would use to handle the situation, entering comments as desired. Mary would then provide feedback. Overwhelmingly, most attendees enjoyed this alternative style. 

Tanya agrees that real world examples are always helpful. She likes to use high-drama examples (still within the world of professionalism) to entice the audience. This leads to the next point…

Gamification

Like the rest of us, Tanya has experienced the quiet crowd syndrome, so she recommends that part of getting past it is the “gamification” of learning. You gamify whatever you are doing or asking; for example, a cell phone quiz that attendees can participate in or a timer/buzzer on the screen that counts down the seconds until the final answer is given. 

Online vs. Classroom Training

What about the venue? Are there different things a trainer should do, unique to each? I admitted to Tanya that, for me, delivering online training is harder because of the lack of faces and there is less interaction. She surprised (and educated) me by arguing that she sees more interaction online, even though you lose the wonderful face-to-face (F2F) energy. She relayed how online interaction is enriched various ways; for example:

  • In an F2F setting, you get 25% interaction (or less) on average. In an online environment, you get 100% if the learner wants continuing education credits or similar.
  • Online discussion forums have been called “The Great Equalizer” because there is no inhibition of people judging you based on how you look, act, or speak. You are on level playing field, communicating through text. I hear from all of my learners in an online class; in an F2F class, I pretty much hear from the extroverts exclusively.
  • In an online setting, I have an easier time getting out of the way. I’m not the “sage on stage” anymore; I’m the facilitator and the focus is on the students. While I want to extend the discussions, correct misassumptions, and help students problem solve, it’s not about me and my great or deficient presentation style; it’s about the learning occurring.
  • With a recorded online session (versus live), I have the ability to script everything out and record it to perfection. Similarly, the learners can think about, edit, and perfect a response.

She closed our interview by stating, “I think the andragogical principles apply to any venue (F2F, blended or online), but certainly, each venue has its own best practices unique to that venue.” Well said! For the training we conduct, we need to identify the available options and customize accordingly to fit the audience and venue.

Related Resources


About the Editor

Lynn Larson, CPCP, editor of the blog, founded Recharged Education in January 2014. With more than 15 years of Commercial Card experience, her mission is to make industry education readily accessible to all. Learn more

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